West Side News

Groundbreakings set for seven elementary school projects

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Students are expected to put on their thinking caps at school.

But students at several South-Western City School District elementary schools will soon have the chance to put on their hard hats.

Groundbreaking celebrations for the district's phase 2 and phase 3 elementary building projects will be held later this month.

"As we've done with our previous groundbreaking celebrations, we like to involve the students," said Sandy Nekoloff, executive director of communications and community relations.

"Every student will have the chance to wear a hard hat, hold a shovel and be part of a picture taken at the ceremony," she said.

The schedule for the groundbreaking ceremonies for phase 2 schools:

* J.C. Sommer, 9 a.m. May 28.

* Darbydale, 1 p.m. May 28.

* Finland, 10 a.m. May 29.

* Stiles, 9 a.m. May 30.

These projects, as well as construction of the new Bolton Crossing school, will begin this spring with the schools expected to open in the fall of 2015.

Students at J.C. Sommer, Darbydale, Finland and Stiles will continue to attend class in their old buildings while the new schools are being constructed.

Two classrooms at J.C. Sommer will be moved into modular units to allow for partial demolition of the existing building, making room for construction.

Five classrooms at Stiles will be relocated to make room for construction.

Groundbreaking ceremonies also will be held this month at three schools that will be part of phase 3, Nekoloff said.

Those schools are:

* Prairie Lincoln, 9 a.m. May 22.

* West Franklin, 9 a.m. May 23.

* Richard Avenue, 1 p.m. May 30.

Although construction at these schools won't begin until spring 2015, the groundbreaking ceremonies are being held this year while students are still in their original buildings, Nekoloff said.

The students in these three buildings will be moving temporarily into the old buildings at schools that were part of the first phase of the project -- Richard into the old Monterey building, Prairie Lincoln into the old Prairie Norton building and West Franklin into the old Harmon building.

Monterey, Prairie Lincoln and Harmon students will be moving into their new school buildings when the next school year begins on Sept. 2. Nekoloff said.

The phase 1 projects are on target for the new buildings to be completed in time for the start of school this fall, said Mark Waller, coordinator of property services.

"They've been like any construction project. Some things go worse than expected, but it's balanced out by the things that go more smoothly than expected," Waller said.

The move into the new buildings will take place over the summer, he said.

Alton Hall is the fourth school that was part of the first phase and its old building will be demolished over the summer, Waller said.

The project includes the renovation of Buckeye Woods and Darby Woods elementary schools, which will take place over the summer.

"We will come in on June 3 and move everything out of those buildings, get the work done and move everything back into the buildings for the start of school on Sept. 2," Waller said. "It's going to be quite an undertaking."

Work is also continuing on the construction of the new Franklin Heights High School building.

The new high school will open in the fall of 2016, although it may not be until after the school year starts, Waller said.

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